Message From the AERA President —The 2017 Annual Meeting in San Antonio: A Timely Site for the Theme

July 2016

Dear AERA Members,

As you know, July 22nd is the last day to submit papers or sessions for the 2017 Annual Meeting. The overall theme of the meeting is "Knowledge to Action: Achieving the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity." I hope that you find the description of the theme—and related video—useful in framing your proposals and drawing upon your research. In particular, I hope that you consider the unique opportunity that San Antonio and the Southwest afford to examine some of the most compelling issues related to this year’s theme and to your ongoing research.

I also want to reinforce Executive Director Levine’s most
recent statement, appearing on the AERA website, that acknowledges our sadness regarding the violence in Baton Rouge, the St. Paul area, and Dallas. Unfortunately, we have needed to issue far too many of these statements. We keep those affected directly by the violence in our thoughts and encourage all of us to work for peace and justice in the United States and abroad.

The education issues in San Antonio and the Southwest—structural inequalities, immigration and its effects, teaching mathematics, learning science, and equality and equity—as in other regions of the United States, are broad in some cases and narrow in others. They relate to curriculum and have implications not only for racial, cultural, and language diversity and sexual orientation but also for teacher preparation, school choice, and the multidimensionality of identities with which students enter schools. They relate as well to access to higher education and to career and workplace opportunities that follow. The questions of educational opportunity are historical, national, and global, and embody a range of contemporary challenges.

Some AERA members have expressed concerns regarding some of the legislative or policy actions and controversies in Texas over recent years: textbook selection and depiction of slavery, same-sex marriage, and an open gun carrying law that went into effect in January 2016. These issues are not to be ignored, and they are commonly part of public discussions and debates in our home states, my own state, Pennsylvania, among them.

In San Antonio, we have the opportunity to bring our knowledge to bear on many of these issues and to share our expertise, using the best science, research and scholarship, data, and analysis available. Our colleagues in universities in and around San Antonio are addressing these issues—through innovative programs for Mexican-American students and families, a focus on school finance, work with the multiple school districts in the city and the growth of charter schools, legal cases such as the recently decided Fisher v. University of Texas and Plyler v. Doe, efforts to retain ethnic studies, and initiatives for the homeless and undocumented, among many others.

There is the practical and human side of our presence in San Antonio as well, steeped in the traditions of purpose and goals of research and the ways that change occurs over time.  In a recent visit to San Antonio in May to meet with our colleagues there and to learn more about the setting, the importance of AERA’s meeting in the Southwest was reinforced. I was reminded of what the different periods in San Antonio’s history have taught us, how they have challenged us, how spectacular the city is, and how gracious, engaged, and committed our colleagues are. This was no more evident than in the ease and warmth of morning greetings between Dr. Ricardo Romo, President of the University of Texas, San Antonio, and native of San Antonio, and his wife, Dr. Harriett Romo, and the regulars at Panchitos, a well-known restaurant in San Antonio. It was also clear from our colleagues, local practitioners, and state policymakers, some of whom drove in from other cities to share their expertise and enthusiasm for our annual meeting and who have provided us with enormous support since our visit.

In addition, the 2017 Annual Meeting overlaps the end of Fiesta in San Antonio. Our aim is to connect culturally to the heritages of the Southwest and to bring that sense of community to the Meeting. Whether or not your submission is theme-related, we encourage you to submit your best work to the appropriate division, SIG, or committee. Please see the
Call for Submissions.

I began this letter urging you to submit proposals and to attend the 2017 Annual Meeting. I conclude it by reminding all of us of our core values as education researchers, scholars, practitioners, and policymakers to engage the field in improving the quality of education content and access. Our task is no greater than the need to share our knowledge and to move that knowledge to action. Based upon my experience in the city, AERA’s presence will be warmly welcomed in the Southwest and by our colleagues in San Antonio and the students, families, schools, and institutions that are a part of their work.


Vivian L. Gadsden
AERA President
University of Pennsylvania

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